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NFL Jumps the Shark Letting Tweets in Pro Bowl

While it may seem like a big deal that the most powerful sports league in the US (and maybe the planet), the NFL, is letting it’s players tweet during a game but let’s not run around ringing in the new era of social media and sports.

It’s pretty fascinating to consider, right? A player comes off the field after an incredible catch or incredible hit and immediately tells his followers how he feels. It’s the ultimate in letting the fans in on the emotion and intensity of such an emotional and intense game like football. From Yahoo we read

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been accused of turning the NFL into the “No Fun League,” but Wednesday, he took a bold step to fight back against that label. He’s not only allowing players to tweet during the Pro Bowl ‒ he’s setting up computer stations on the sidelines to help them do so.

Which is exactly how a man who is no fun would combat allegations that he is no fun.

The NFL policy for real games is that players are banished from Twitter 90 minutes before a game starts, all the way until all the postgame interviews are conducted. For this Sunday’s Pro Bowl, it’s a Twitter free-for-all. Players still can’t have their mobile devices on the sidelines, but again, the league will be setting up “computer stations.”

But here’s the rub, it’s being done during a “game” that is as meaningless as anything the NFL does can possibly be. The league allowing and even enabling its players to tweet during a game sounds great but it’s really a completely hollow and insignificant gesture. In other words, don’t expect this to happen during ANY other game that the league has in the foreseeable future.

This is a pure PR stunt that has no legs. Why? Because anyone who has any real understanding of the NFL knows that this game is a joke. The league has been trying to figure out how to make the Pro Bowl work in the Internet age and thus far they have failed miserably. A game like this used to have value because there were limited ways for fans to see and hear about the players. It used to have value back in the 70′s and 80′s because there was no Internet and the 24 / 7 sports news cycle hadn’t taken hold as it has today.

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So how do you breathe life into an event that traditionally has been held after the Super Bowl but has been pushed so close to the brink of irrelevancy that it is now played on the Sunday in between the last playoff game and the Super Bowl just so people would even remember it was being played? Make it a true gimmick, of course. Nice slippery slope you just stepped on Commissioner Goodell.

As a sports fan this whole effort just reeks of desperation and brings out the absolute worst in the social media space. Why do I say that? It’s because now the game is more reality TV than it is football. Oh and by the way, most of the players don’t even want to be there. They don’t want to risk injury that could cost them their livelihood in a meaningless game which doesn’t even include players from the Super Bowl teams any more.

I get what the league is trying to do. It is trying to boost the interest of the fans and the players (especially those who are smart enough to jockey for position regarding their post career options in a social media world) so that the game will be relevant again.

But here is what will happen. Social media proponents will start to crow at the start of next season that this kind of thing should be allowed in pre-season and possibly even regular season games. They will not let this idea go. The league, however, will likely NEVER allow this to happen in any game that matters because it could dilute their product which is a multi-billion dollar machine that can virtually print money the way it is now.

Social media types will say that opening the game to the players will enhance the fan experience. Most of these people wouldn’t be able to hold a football without dropping it let alone understand what it takes to actually play the game well. It’ll be nerds dictating football. There is NO upside for the league in doing that because the egos and the like will turn the NFL into a reality TV show and it will alienate its fans that allow it to roll on and make tons of money.

I’ve gone on long enough about this. I’ll wrap up by saying that I think this is a ridiculous idea because it throws open the door for the NFL to go down the road of being turned into a social media joke. By allowing this it has now given the social media world real traction in the game and it may not be able to turn back without having more No Fun League accusations hurled at it.

Normally the NFL is pretty smart. This decision is just plain dumb.